Qualifying day of the 2022 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has ended in exciting fashion, with Chaz Mostert driving the #65 Coinspot Audi R8 LMS GT3 to his second Alan Simonsen Trophy for pole position after an exciting back-and-forth battle with the #74 Audi R8 of Kelvin van der Linde during the dying stages of qualifying. Sunenergy1’s #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Jules Gounon will start third on the grid.
It was another strong day for Audi after they started Saturday with Markus Winkelhock topping Practice 5 in the #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Audi R8 GT3 in misty conditions on the lower parts of the mountain, before Kelvin van der Linde took out the final practice session of the weekend. It ensured that Audi had led all sessions up until qualifying.
The strong showing of pace from the Audi factory-supported entries of Melbourne Performance Centre (MPC) Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia was not limited to the #74 and #777 cars alone, and indeed the fastest aggregated time in qualifying – where each car’s listed amateur driver’s best qualifying time is added to the nominated Pro drivers best time for an overall time – was by the #65 Coinspot Audi R8 GT3 driven by one-time Blancpain Endurance Series amateur champion Liam Talbot before being handed over to Chaz Mostert who placed the car on provisional pole.
At the end of the first round of qualifying, Audi had four cars inside the top 10. Mercedes-AMG had also managed to get four cars inside the top 10 with Porsche and Lamborghini taking the last two places with their single entries respectively. The final placings were decided by a Top 10 Shootout held over two 15-minute sessions with five cars per session, instead of the single hot lap format used previously. This was due to cooler conditions not allowing teams to heat tyres sufficiently on the one out lap to create impactful lap times.
While the first five cars had the last of direct daylight on the track, none of the cars could set a competitive enough time to challenge the second group participants. The Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering #888 Mann-Filter of Shane van Gisbergen struggled to generate front grip as he tried in vain to get the front end to respond to his inputs.
The second group fielded three Audis (#65, #74 and #777) against the #75 Mercedes-AMG of Jules Gounon and the #45 RAM Motorsport Mercedes-AMG of Bathurst regular Brett Hobson. But aside from an early flyer from #777 pilot Ricardo Feller, it was a compelling battle between Kelvin van der Linde and the Australian Mostert who exchanged best laps one after another. Even when Mostert was seemingly impeded by the #45 car into the last corner, he had still done enough to edge out Van der Linde midway through the session. An almost immediate response from the #74 Audi took the lead once more, before Mostert used his absolute last effort to gain a tiny advantage in the last sector of the track, knocking out a 2m02.493s lap and stealing pole by 0.08 seconds – the closest margin in Bathurst 12 Hour history.
Meanwhile Gounon wrung the #75 orange AMG for all he could with a 2m03.2192s lap to pip Feller to third place.
Main Race action begins Sunday at 5:15 (21:15 CEST) in the morning. All session can be watched live on GT.REPORT/live.
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